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Governor Blunt Proposes More Funding for Autism Services

MU's Thompson Center Stands to Gain $5 Million for New Facility

Jan. 4, 2008

Story Contact:  Jennifer Faddis, (573) 882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt announced today his intention to seek more funding for autism services in the state. The proposal includes $5 million for a new, expanded facility for the University of Missouri’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He made the announcement today at the Thompson Center. Three other centers in Missouri would gain funding for programs as well.

“We are very pleased that the Governor recognizes the need for autism services in Missouri,” said Janet Farmer, executive co-director of the Thompson Center. “A new Thompson Center facility at MU is essential for continued development of our state-of-the-art clinical programs, training opportunities for students and community professionals, and cutting edge research.”

Previous support from the state has accelerated the pace of growth of the Thompson Center diagnostic and intervention services for children and families affected by autism spectrum disorders. The Center now provides services that promote early childhood development, enhance academic progress, manage behaviors, encourage friendships and support the transition from school to work.

“We are dedicated to family-centered and collaborative care in the state and want to ensure that no matter where a child or family lives in Missouri their child will get the same quality care,” Farmer said. “The Thompson Center strives to be a resource for families and professionals through our research, training and clinical services.”

 Between 2005 and 2007, the Thompson Center more than tripled the number services provided from 2,000 visits to more than 6,000 visits per year. Fifty-four percent of the visits in 2007 were for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and the rest were for those with other developmental concerns. The Thompson Center also experienced growth in research programs and now participates in several national research networks that study the causes of and treatments for autism spectrum disorders.
“A larger facility allows the Thompson Center to expand our interdisciplinary collaborations and our local, state and national partnerships. This will promote a continuum of care that starts with early detection of developmental challenges and leads to effective intervention over time,” Farmer said.

Four people affiliated with the Thompson Center recently sat on the 16-member Missouri Blue Ribbon Autism Panel. The panel – composed of lawmakers, family members, health professionals, educators and state agency personnel – was charged with determining the state of autism in Missouri. Panel members looked at services, teaching, training and research and recently made 36 recommendations for improving the quality of life for those with autism and their families. Among the recommendations were improving consistency of care, enhancing services and focusing on intervention across the lifespan.